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Suicide Squad: Better Than You Think

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Suicide Squad has been out in theaters for a couple of weeks now, and it’s getting smashed by critics. True, it has its problems, and plenty of them, but does it really deserve all the hate? Absolutely not, and I’d like to take a moment to address some of the story issues critics had with the movie. (Warning here that spoilers will be discussed.)

Let’s start with the Enchantress and the main critique with her. No, not the writhing, hula dancing thing; that was just weird. I’m talking about the fact that no one seems to understand her motivation. Most critics I’ve heard claim she was mad because humans didn’t worship her anymore, and she didn’t like machines for some reason, so she’s going to wipe out the human race. They say it like it’s some dumb thing, but it goes so much deeper than they realize.

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Six thousand years ago, Enchantress and her brother were basically gods, powerful metahumans worshipped by a probably agrarian society. All that power, being able to give anything to these people or to take it away.  Then she’s trapped for thousands of years, and when she reemerges, no one worships her anymore. The fearful farmers have turned into tech-obsessed, disaster-saturated drones without a capacity for wonder.

Worse, her power is harnessed by the coldest of these people, Amanda Waller. Her life is in the hands of this human, and the once mighty Enchantress is now a pawn, a machine to be switched on at will and used for the benefit of others. The master has become the slave, and that’s something she can’t handle. That’s why she creates the machine/spell to attack the strongholds of the government who would control her, to return to her rightful place of power and freedom. Does it lead to a cliché beam in the sky? Yes, but you can’t tell me the motivation isn’t there.

SUICIDE SQUAD

What about the squad itself? I’ve heard several critics say they don’t know why these people were brought together to fight this threat. Shouldn’t they be fighting something more street-level? Maybe; after all, that was more their purpose in the comics, from what I can gather. But the premise of the movie is that Waller wants a team to fight the next Superman if he turns out to be a jerk, and she wants people who are both powerful and expendable (in the eyes of the public, not just her own) to do it. Threats like this are exactly why Task Force X exists in the first place, and since Waller manages to create this particular threat, it makes sense that she wants to keep the cleanup in house, where she can control it.

That’s one reason Batman or Wonder Woman didn’t show up to fight Enchantress. Another particularly good reason is that they’re busy hunting down future members of the Justice League. These guys are scattered across the country, maybe even across the globe; they’re not going to be in the area, and they certainly couldn’t respond with the same rapidity as Task Force X, especially considering the government’s foreknowledge of the disaster. Maybe the Flash could have gotten there in time, but he still hasn’t graduated from thieves and thugs. The only ones who could do anything in this scenario are the bad guys with the bombs in their necks. Still not convinced? Remember all those Marvel movies where the Avengers didn’t show up to help in between movies? Same basic principle.

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Finally, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about how useless some of these characters are. This one I’d partially agree with; they overcrowded the film with characters, so a lot of people get pushed to the background, like Killer Croc and Katana. Even so, I still feel like everyone got a moment. Sure, most of the focus is on Deadshot and Harley Quinn, but everyone else in the squad comes to play. Diablo gets a compelling story arc and a great final battle, Captain Boomerang gets plenty of humor (and I keep hearing how all he does is spy on Enchantress with a boomerang, but did you not see him take out all those drone soldiers with his signature weapons?), Croc got some great lines that stand out all the more because he says so little, and Rick Flagg has an arc through this story that I found relatable. Even Katana has two great character moments that don’t quite make up for how little she does, but man, there’s an awesome character in there begging to be released. Everyone has something great about them, even if it’s only a glimpse. Except Slipknot. Poor guy never had a chance.

So there you go, a few answers to some of the more common complaints about Suicide Squad. Does it make up for the clichés, conflicting tone, and messy storytelling? Absolutely not. Does it make it a good movie? Not really, no. But it does make it better than you thought.

 

Suicide Squad is owned by Warner Bros. & DC.

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